Indus OS, the homegrown smartphone operating system, and Ola, the cab aggregator and transportation company, in a joint statement, on Wednesday announced that they have entered into a partnership to provide a new mobility experience for Indus Operating System (OS) users.
The partnership, which was 'inked and sealed' over a period of eight months, will allow smartphone users across India using Indus OS instant access to Ola’s services through the OS’s in-built default messaging app.
Used by an estimated eight million Indians on smartphones such as Micromax, Intex Technologies, Karbonn Mobiles, Celkon, among others, Indus OS claims to be the leading operating system favored by most regional language smartphone users across India, and the second most popular mobile operating system in India.
YourStory spoke to Rakesh Deshmukh, CEO of Indus OS and Anand Subramanian, Sr. Director, Ola, to learn more about the development. Here is the story.
A WhatsApp-like cab booking experience?
This integration with Indus OS makes the Ola experience available in English and 12 regional languages (catering to almost 95 percent of the Indian population). Rakesh noted that Ola has been integrated with Indus OS through the inbuilt intuitive messaging app of their OS, which apart from access to Ola's cab booking service also invokes suggestions based on the context of the message.
The 12 regional languages include Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, Oriya, Assamese, Punjabi, Kannada, Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Marathi. This partnership aims to expand the user base of those who can avail of mobility solutions from just Ola app users to a larger user base of Ola users, which also includes Ola's Progressive Web App users.
Nitin Gupta, VP, Engineering at Ola, said in a statement,
Mobility is for everyone, irrespective of language and location. The growth story of Ola is thus, based on innovations, built to cater to unique needs and challenges of India and Indians. This partnership with Indus OS is a step in catering to such use cases and ensuring that access to reliable mobility solutions reaches everyone who needs it in the most contextual and intuitive experience.
A walk through how the integration works
As demonstrated in the GIF below, Indus OS users need to open the in-built messaging app and click on Ola among the suggested brand accounts to book a cab. Ola will also pop up as a recommendation, if any message has the context of mobility. For instance; a doctor’s appointment, confirmation messages of movie tickets, etc.
Options of category and the cost for the ride will appear on the messaging window along with suggested prompts for response. The messaging app will identify a user's location and open maps to enter the drop location. On the basis of the choice users make, it will ask for confirmation, and send the ride information, in the same window.
Expected impact and future integrations
Since inception, Ola notes that it has been cognizant of the unique needs and demands of India with innovations such as offline booking, Progressive Web App (PWA), Ola Share, and others.
Understanding the diversity in language preferences of driver partners, Ola’s partner app has been available in eight Indian languages, apart from English, ensuring that their driver partners have access in a language of their choice. In the past, Ola has also partnered with players like Zomato and Practo to leverage cab bookings for their app users in a more intuitive manner.
The association with Indus OS will now help Ola cater to consumer interest by providing instant access to an underserved market. Anand noted that while Ola users in tier-1 city will benefit from this update, the biggest impact will likely be in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, where a larger proportion of the non-English speaking users reside.
Ola claims that it understands the real needs of the Indian masses and believes in ground-up innovation to solve those needs. The company also noted that the integration with Indus OS has been optimised to ensure minimal data and battery consumption.
While Ola is a unicorn and has raised more than $1.5 billion in funding from multiple investors including SoftBank, DST Global, Accel, Matrix Parners and others, Indus OS has raised $5 million in series A funding from Omidyar Network, VenturEast and JSW Ventures, and is angel funded by Hari Padmanabhan, Mayank Singhal from Temasek Holdings, Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal from Snapdeal, Amit Gupta and Naveen Tiwari from Inmobi and Pranay Chulet from Quikr.
Indus OS’ long-term vision is to digitally connect one billion people in the emerging markets with a smartphone ecosystem of their choice. Indus OS also has its own app marketplace called App Bazaar with more than 50,000 applications available in 12 regional languages and English. The company has a team of more than 100 employees, with over 80 percent of the team dedicated towards technology & R&D.
While Ola is Indus OS's first brand partner for this chat-based integration, Rakesh noted that the goal is to adapt its existing portfolio and introduce new features aligned with government initiatives, especially geared towards supporting the road map of Digital India. For the next phase of their growth, Rakesh noted that Indus OS is looking at reaching to 100 brand partners in the next six months. He said,
The partners will be in different verticals like messaging, bus bookings, train bookings, food ordering and even content.